Imaginary Communties: Utopia, The Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity

Phillip E. Wegner

Drawing from literary history, social theory, and political critique, this far-reaching study explores the utopian narrative as a medium for understanding the social space of the modern nation-state. Considering the narrative utopia from its earliest manifestation in Thomas More’s sixteenth-century work Utopia to some of the most influential utopias of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this book is an astute study of a literary genre as well as a nuanced dialectical meditation on the history of utopian thinking as a quintessential history of modernity.

status Copy #1 (5546): in
genre Language » Literary Commentary
publisher University of California Press
publish date 2002
popularity checked out 1 time(s)


  • By Nathaniel Kidd -

    Wegner’s learned study of utopic geography and attempt at mapping modernity through spatial history falls squarely within the “outside of the box” box of contemporary critical theory, charting a trajectory through a canon of utopian literature that helps us to name the historical and philosophical freight of these fantasies. Wegner might be better read in dialogue with Radical Orthodoxy, and the recent insights developed by Milbank and Taylor, viz., that the “secular” in its medieval and classical conceptualization is not so much a space as a time, such that the the attempt to spatialize imaginary communities actually involves a violent expulsion of any notion of sacral space in the service of a progressive vision. The absence of engagement with this insight, in my view, makes Wegner’s work insufficiently critical as a critical perspective. Nevertheless, it is a valuable member of the library collection in speaking to the structure of a variety of imagined alternatives to existing sociocultural spaces and structures.

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